Thursday, February 21, 2019

A Man and His Tram

 "Just a small town girl
living in a lonely world
she took the midnight tram going anywhere...
Just a small town boy
born and raised in south Moorhead
he took the midnight tram going anywhere..."

And so our fairytale life began. But.......... It didn't start that easily. No.

Years ago we were parking cars at the Florida Strawberry Festival. Getting insults and garbage hurled at us. Choking on exhaust fumes and dust. Thats when I saw it. A tram.
I got down on my hands and knees and vowed that someday I would look down upon the world from that drivers seat. Years went by. I worked my way up from barrel trains.
To hay wagons.
Finally the day came and I was getting called up to the big leagues. Come down to Texas for a try out y'all.
The owners had a stable full of trams.
I was assigned Tram 4. It's nostalgic lines beckoned me to come closer. To view life from simpler times. I knew deep down that Tram 4 and I would have a long and adventurous life together. Going places no trams have gone before. Mike said "Drive it, learn it. Become one with the tram". And so I did.
I learned that tram 4 could be gentle and kind when it wanted to be. But most of the time it was a cantankerous old beast that in all of these years of hard use, still did not want to be ridden. It would pop and sputter as I would drive it along. Then when you hit a bump the steering wheel would get ripped out of your hands and just shake until you slowed down and it recovered.
Here we are working on the front end. I replaced the steering box and also the front tie rods. I also tightened all of the tie rods on the trailers because they were fishtailing like crazy. We were finally ready for our first show. The Polar Bear Express. We were all glitzed out with glam and glitter, only to make it halfway through the event. Tram 4 developed a transmission leak. More than a leak, it was gushing out of there. It was taken to a tranny shop and returned. It finished The Polar Bear Express and then was shipped down to Florida for the big trifecta of tram tours. The RV Show, State Fair and Strawberry Festival.
As proud as a Jockey on a champion race horse, we were ready. The RV Show was first. Day one went great. Parading back and forth from the gate to the entrance full of happy campers. Day 2 was completely different. Tram 4 woke up on the wrong side of the stable I guess. It would drive along fine and then all of a sudden pass out. Right in front of everybody. I would stick the spurs to her and she wouldn't budge until she wanted too. Finally it would start and drive for a little while and then just pass out again. Heat stroke I think. In Texas it was cool but in Florida it was hot. We were thinking vapor lock. So Mike took it away and did some tweaking with it and returned it to finish the show. By the way the transmission leak came back, bad as ever. We finished the show and hung our heads low as we limped back to the stable.

The State fair was next. 12 days of tram work. How was it ever going to make it. We were put at an out of the way gate so that it didn't have to work as hard. We limped through the first full weekend. Dumping quart after quart of fluid in it to get it through. We got a break during the week and it was hauled off to the tranny shop again for another rebuild. 

It came back with a little "giddy-up in its gate". Things were going great when out of the blue it died again. It hadn't died since the RV show and we thought we had that fixed.  Mike brought me the spare tram and took tram 4 back and put a new carb on it and a fuel pump and then brought it back. We finished the fair and it was running fine.

I will have to admit that these trams are old and parts are hard to come by. You really don't know of a problem until it happens and you have to fix them on the fly. Used parts are "iffy" at best because you don't know if that is a good part or not. So it is a lot of trial and error. But now I think that most of the bugs have been worked out of tram 4 and it should perform with honor I hope. Knock on wood.

Since the state fair is under our belts, I can honestly say that I hate people again. Coming up next is the 11 day stretch of the Florida Strawberry Festival.


  1. I can't wait to hear what names Lisa gets called thus year!

    1. She should be fine. I work so she doesn't have to.